With LSE widely recognised as the world’s leading specialist social science university, the MSc in Philosophy of Social Sciences is the ideal degree with which to pursue questions about human societies, and to apply philosophical reasoning to understanding the nature of the social sciences themselves.
Duration: 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time
Minimum entry requirement: 2:1 degree or equivalent, with a considered interest in the area covered by the MSc (see entry requirements)
English requirement: Standard (see English requirements), plus a writing sample of 5–10 typewritten pages if English is not your first language
GRE/GMAT requirement: None
Fee level: UK/EU £13,008 (provisional EU); overseas £20,112
Financial support: Graduate Support Scheme (see Financial Support). All successful applicants whose complete applications are received by 24 April 2017 are also eligible to be considered for the Lakatos MSc Scholarship (up to £5000)
Application deadline: None – rolling admissions
Further information: Graduate Admissions Office’s website
Contact: Andrea Ledwig (Taught Programmes Manager)
Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Anthropology, economics, geography, political science, sociology – you already know what the social sciences are. But how do they work? What makes them special? There are clear senses in which they differ from some of the natural sciences, such as their extremely diverse set of methods and analytic techniques, but does this make the social sciences any less scientific or objective?
These are some of the general questions philosophers of social sciences sometimes tackle. But there are more specific questions as well: Do evolutionary explanations of social phenomena provide an accurate account of why societies are the way they are, or are such explanations merely unverifiable just-so stories? What relations exist among rationality, choice, action, and interpretation?
An MSc in Philosophy of Social Sciences at LSE provides an ideal environment in which to study these and other questions, either as a means of gaining deeper insight into the philosophical underpinnings of how we understand society, or as a world-class means of preparing for further academic study.
What It’s Like
LSE consistently ranks the top programme in the world for the graduate study of philosophy of social sciences.
You’ll get a chance not only to do your coursework with some of the world’s top researchers in philosophy of the social sciences as well as some of the world’s top social scientists themselves. You’ll also be surrounded by the intellectual bustle that is so characteristic of LSE.
The department hosts a rich series of regular events of interest to philosophers of the social sciences. The British Society for the Philosophy of Science hosts their regular lecture series at LSE. In addition, you will have the opportunity to enjoy cutting edge lectures on philosophy of the social sciences from two popular lecture series, the Choice Group and the Managing Severe Uncertainty project.
Our students typically form a tight social group. The Department facilitates this by hosting a number of social occasions through the year. In addition, London has a wide range of opportunities for socialising, with a great many additional philosophical activities offered by the Institute of Philosophy and the University of London, enabling enterprising students to make contact with people from other universities.
The Philosophy of the Social Sciences degree coordinator, Professor J. McKenzie Alexander specialises in evolutionary game theory, especially as applied to the evolution of morality and social norms. He is also interested in the foundations of decision theory and in broader issues in the philosophy of science and social science. The results of his work on the origin and evolution of moral principles and sentiments can be found in his 2007 book, The Structural Evolution of Morality.
What you’ll do
LSE’s distinctive approach to philosophy of the social sciences is both continuous with the sciences and socially relevant.
In our general and specialist courses the philosophical analysis is inseparably intertwined with science, and often directly motivated by problems in the sciences. At LSE, students learn to reason with philosophical rigour, but also have the chance to learn essential scientific tools such as modern logic and probability theory.
A typical student on this programme can expect to have, for each examined course, 20 hours of lectures and 30 hours of seminars from our world-class primary academic faculty, with a guarantee that no seminar will have more than 16 students. In addition, there is 30 hours of teaching on the dissertation research and writing seminar, plus plenty of one-on-one advising and discussion time with your lecturers during office hours.
|Either:||PH405 Philosophy of the Social Sciences||Or:||PH413 Philosophy of Economics|
|Courses to the value of two units from the list of options below. Alternatively, students may take one unit from the list below and one approved outside unit, on the condition that at least one unit is a PH4xx course taught within the department.|
|PH422 Dissertation Seminar (non-assessed) to help prepare you to write your dissertation|
|PH499 Dissertation in which you work with a supervisor to write your own piece of original research in the field. Much of the writing takes place over the Summer Term.|
Please note that where Philosophy degree programmes permit “options”, these must be selected from amongst courses at LSE. In general, only courses administered by LSE count towards our degree programmes.
This information is provided for guidance only. The definitive statement of all of the School’s regulations can be found on the LSE Calendar.
Who is suited for this degree
The MSc in Philosophy of the Social Sciences draws students from around the world. It is an ideal way to prepare for further PhD work in philosophy or a social science, and indeed a rare opportunity for students interested in academia to study with such a large number of philosophers of the social sciences. Many of our graduates thus go on to further study.
However, the rigorous analytic and scientific skills this programme provides are applicable in a range of high-level occupations, for employment in fields such as science journalism, science administration, public policy making, policy-making and medicine, in both governmental and non-governmental sectors. Strong applications that show a careful and considered interest in the fields of study for this degree stand the best chance of acceptance.
Find out more about our MSc Programmes in our new Graduate Webinar, presented by Dr Bryan W. Roberts.
All applicants for this degree are eligible to be considered for the LSE Graduate Support Scheme.
As well as this, successful applicants to the Philosophy of the Social Sciences MSc programme are eligible to be considered for a Lakatos MSc Scholarship of up to £5000. The award of this scholarship is based upon the information contained in the application itself and all complete applications received by 24 April will automatically be considered. Both Home UK/EU and Overseas Students are eligible for this scholarship and the successful recipient(s) will be notified via email by the end of May.
There are a range of other options for funding your LSE Philosophy master’s degree, these are summarised on our MSc Funding Opportunities page. For further information please visit the LSE Financial Support Office homepage.
Preparatory Reading and Booklist for Offer-Holders
A suggested booklist for offer-holders considering studying this degree is available on ReadingLists@LSE.
Applications for our MSc degrees open around mid-October and usually close in late April. To improve your prospects, we encourage you to apply early in the application cycle. Further information about the application process is available on the Graduate Admissions website.